25 Unique Mexican Traditions and Festive Mexico Holidays

Ready to discover the best Mexican holidays and traditions?!

There are so many interesting Mexico holidays and festivals that offer a great glimpse into Mexico’s culture and traditions. Some of these Mexican traditions have even been recognized by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Since moving to the country in 2018, it’s been such a great experience to immerse myself in the vibrant culture of Mexico first-hand. Undoubtedly, the best way to experience Mexican traditions and holidays is by being in Mexico, but I hope this list will transport you there (minus the plane ticket)!

If you’re planning a Mexico trip, try to come during one of the holidays listed below — particularly Day of the Dead in Oaxaca. This is known as one of the most magical holidays in Mexico, and a truly unique Mexican cultural experience.

Beyond Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), there are many other Mexican celebrations taking place each month. From piñatas at parties to the Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) holiday, which actually isn’t Mexican Independence Day, you’ll learn about all the best Mexico holidays and traditions here!

Mexican Traditions & Mexico Holidays

Dia de Muertos: October 31-November 2

Right off the beat: Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is NOT Mexican Halloween! What the Day of the Dead actually is, is a two-day holiday to honor our deceased relatives and loved ones — and one of the most popular holidays and traditions Mexico has.

While American Halloween and other rites involving death are dark, sad affairs, Dia de Muertos is a celebration. It involves costumes, face painting, bright colors, dancing in the streets, parades, elaborate ofrendas (altars), traditional Mexican cuisine made only during the holiday, and much more.

Día de los Inocentes

The holiday begins at midnight on November 1 (or the night of October 31, depending on how you look at it). On this night, it’s said the spirits of deceased children return to earthside. For this reason, it’s known as Día de los Inocentes (Day of the Innocentes) or Día de los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels).

Día de Muertos

At midnight on November 2 (or the night of November 1), the spirits of the departed adults return. This is actually the “Day” of the Dead. As this holiday has both prehispanic Aztec and Catholic roots, this is the Catholic equivalent of All Souls’ Day.

Woman in a costume with face painted during day of the dead (dia de los muertos) in oaxaca mexico | Mexican Traditions and Festive Mexico Holidays
Celebrating Day of the Dead in Oaxaca City is a Mexico bucket list experience for many.

Best Places for Day of the Dead in Mexico

Day of the Dead in Oaxaca Mexico

One of the most popular places to celebrate Day of the Dead in Mexico is Oaxaca City, located in southern Mexico. Oaxaca state is known as a hub for culture travelers, and as one of the top foodie destinations in Mexico to enjoy all the amazing Oaxaca food.

It is also a small town, so for those who want to attend the Oaxaca Day of the Dead celebration you’ll want to book about 6-9 months out for this Mexico bucket list experience. On a personal note, I’ve been all over Mexico, and this has been my hands down favorite experience.

Parade of Alebrijes: Mexico City Day of the Dead Parade

Fun Mexico Fact: There was never a Mexico City Día de los Muertos parade until it was depicted in the James Bond film, Spectre. The movie parade was so epic the city decided to make it a reality — and the Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City was born!

It is an elaborate, citywide celebration with parade floats, face-painting, music in the streets, dancers in traditional costume and more. It usually takes place the third Saturday in October, though the date can vary.

Mexican Traditions & Mexico Holidays

Mexican Independence Day: September 16

Though most Americans would probably tell you Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day — the holiday actually takes place on September 16. It is among the Mexican traditions that best represents national pride, and the most important Mexican holiday in September.

It officially kicks off at midnight on Sept. 16 (or the night of Sept. 15, depending on how you look at it), with El Grito de Dolores (see video below ⤵). However, for much of the day of Sept. 15, there will be cultural celebrations, dancing, music and foods in the Zocalo (Town Square) of cities throughout Mexico.

Grito de Dolores: September 15

El Grito de Dolores (The Cry of Dolores) is the most important of all Mexican Independence Day traditions.

The Grito was the rallying call given to Mexican troops before going into battle against the Spanish. Proclaimed by Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in the city of Dolores Hidalgo, this cry is said to have triggered the Mexican War of Independence.

The largest Grito de Dolores takes place in Mexico City, where the Mexican President recreates the cry on the Presidential Balcony of the Palacio Nacional (National Palace). Each year, thousands gather to hear the cry and see the impressive firework display that follows.

Though this is the largest Cry of Dolores in Mexico, it’s not the only one. Throughout the country, various cities also recreate the Grito, including in Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico, where Father Hidalgo made the original battle cry to the troops at midnight on September 16, 1810.

Mexican Traditions & Mexico Holidays

Cinco de Mayo: May 5

Though a rather big holiday celebration in the U.S. most Mexicans don’t actually celebrate 5 de Mayo. In fact, it’s really only celebrated in one city — Puebla, Mexico, located a few hours south of Mexico City.

As mentioned, this isn’t Mexican Independence Day. Rather, the holiday commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over France in the 1862 Battle of Puebla. While many don’t know this, Mexico was actually under French governance in 1862!

For those who make the trip to Cinco de Mayo in Puebla, it’s a festive time with parades, music in the streets, battle reenactments, special foods like chile en nogada, and more. However, outside of this, you won’t find any May 5th Mexico celebrations.

colorful street in puebla mexico with colonial architecture | Callejon de los Sapos (Frog Alley or Toad Alley)
The colorful Callejon de los Sapos (Frog Alley) in Puebla, Mexico.
Mexican Traditions & Mexico Holidays

Carnival in Mexico: Late February

Carnaval is a multi-day event, culminating on Martes de Carnaval, known as Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday” in the U.S. Similar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Carnaval in Brazil, there are parades, festive floats, dancing, elaborate costumes and street parties in Mexico as well.

The largest celebration takes place in the state of Veracruz, but there’s also a huge, elaborate Carnaval in the coastal city of Mazatlan. Additional festivals take place in the Yucatan Peninsula city of Merida, on the Baja Peninsula in Ensenada, in Tepoztlan near Mexico City, and more.

Carnival in Veracruz

Carnaval takes place in several parts of Mexico, though Carnaval de Veracruz, which takes place in the Port of Veracruz (AKA Heroica Veracruz), is the largest. In fact, it is the second most famous Carnival in Latin America, after the one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The nine-day Carnaval de Veracruz starts off in the city’s Zocalo (Town Square), with the Quema del Mal Humor, meaning “burning the bad mood.” As the name implies, there’s a large effigy of a human figure that’s burned, to symbolically cleanse the world’s negative energies.

Mexican Traditions & Mexico Holidays

Semana Santa and Pascua: Easter Week

Semana Santa (Holy Week) is a weeklong Catholic holiday that begins on Palm Sunday, and ends the following Sunday on Pascua, or Easter Sunday. As Mexico has one of the largest Catholic populations of any country, this is a big holiday in Mexico.

However, not everyone celebrates it the same! For many Mexicans who get the entire week off of both school and work — they head to the beaches. In fact, beach resorts and hotels fill up months out for Semana Santa in Mexico.

🏝 Mexico Travel Tip: For the non-religious, one of the most popular Mexican traditions for Easter is actually hitting the beach! If you’re looking for a peaceful Mexico beach town vacation, avoid making your travel plans over Semana Santa, as the beaches are packed.

Best Place to Attend Semana Santa in Mexico

For those who want to experience the religious side of this holiday, there’s no place that has a more elaborate Mexico Semana Santa celebration than the city of Taxco. This former silver mining town in Central Mexico is one of the best Mexico pueblos magicos (magic towns).

Every day of the week leading up to Easter in Taxco, there are (often gory) processions in the streets. During these, devout Catholics will depict the main people in the Bible’s Easter events, walking through the streets to reenact the crucifixion and other events.

In the afternoons and evenings, different processions feature hooded penitents, carrying heavy crosses or bundles of sharp thorny sticks on outstretched arms, or lashing their backs with sharp thorns. It’s a gruesome, yet fascinating, connection to historical displays of penitence.

large tan church with colorful dome in the ornate baroque style site high atop the town of taxco, one of the most unique places to visit in mexico
The beautiful Santa Prisca de Taxco church in Taxco, Mexico, — one of the country’s pueblos magicos, or “Mexico magic towns.”
Mexican Traditions & Mexico Holidays

Christmas and Las Posadas: December

Beginning in early-December, Posadas, or nightly holiday celebrations, take place throughout Mexico. The Posadas symbolize the Biblical story in which Joseph and Mary made a month-long journey from the city of Nazareth to the city of Bethlehem, in search of a place to give birth to their baby. 

This is one of the oldest Mexican Christmas traditions, and it happens everywhere from private homes to rented halls, to citywide public celebrations and pastorela performances that represent the journey of the shepherds to go worship Jesus.

At a private party, you may end up joining in with the pedir posadas (posada songs). This means “asking for shelter,” alluding to the Biblical journey of Joseph and Mary seeking shelter at the inn. These are songs and verses, similar to what Christmas carolers do in the U.S., singing from door to door.

Noche Buena: December 24

Traditionally, Mexicans eat the main Christmas dinner on December 24, known as Noche Buena, or Christmas Eve. While some families open presents at midnight, others only eat the meal on this day, and don’t open presents until Three Kings Day on January 6.

Dinner is among the Mexican traditions for Christmas that’s not too dissimilar to the U.S. The exact dishes vary from family to family, though you’ll often find roasted turkey and potatoes on all tables, as well as  traditional Mexican foods like romeritos con mole, and traditional Mexican cookies like hojarascas.

tall christmas tree made of lights in front of large cathedral in mexico city | Mexico christmas | Mexican Traditions and Festive Mexico Holidays
Mexico City is especially beautiful during Christmas, with the entire Zocalo (Town Square) festively decorated!
Mexican Traditions & Mexico Holidays

New Year‍’s in Mexico: January 1

For those looking to party in Mexico on New Year’s — know this is NOT a party holiday in Mexico. Rather, it’s celebrated with family in low-key celebrations at home, and most fast asleep by midnight. 

During a family dinner on Año Nuevo (New Year’s), some Mexican traditions include eating 12 grapes as a way to make a wish or set an intention for each month of the year. Others will walk down the streets with luggage, which is said to bring lots of travel in the coming year.

One of the Mexican New Year traditions that’s not always discussed publicly, is that many people will wear a certain color of underwear to signify what they hope for in the New Year. Each color has a different meaning, like yellow for abundance, green for good health and red for love.

With many adults off work, and students on a school break, many simply head to the beaches. The best time to go to Mexico beaches is from November to March during the dry season, so this is the perfect time for a tropical Christmas in Mexico.

tropical beach with golden sand and large boulders in the water at san agustinillo, oaxaca, mexico | Best Oaxaca Beaches
Mexican New Year’s Traditions: Many Mexicans head to one of the country’s beaches to celebrate — like San Agustinillo, one of the best beaches in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Mexican Traditions & Mexico Holidays

Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe: December 12

One of the central religious figures, images and statues of the Virgen de Guadalupe (Virgin of Guadalupe) can be seen all over Mexico. There is even the Guadalupanos, a religious sect who have the Virgin as their central idol, as many Catholics in Mexico are devoted to her above all other figures (including Jesus).

The Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe is among the most important holidays for religious Mexicans and all Latin American Catholics. It has been celebrated for centuries, and begun after the Virgen herself appeared on December 12, 1531 to a Mexican man named Juan Diego (later Saint Juan Diego).

The Virgen ordered he build her a temple. As a way to prove she did appear to him, he brought the local clergy members a piece of fabric from her. Eventually, one bishop did see an image of the Virgen de Guadalupe’s appear on it. He ordered a church built on Tepeyac Hill — in the very spot she requested.

Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe church in Mexico City | Mexican Traditions and Festive Mexico Holidays
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Mexico City, is one of the most beautiful Mexico churches.

Best Place to Attend Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe in Mexico

The main place to experience Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe is on Tepeyac Hill, in the beautiful Basílica de Guadalupe in Mexico City. On December 12 each year, millions of devout Catholics (yes — millions!) travel from every corner of Mexico to attend mass; some even make the trek on foot as a form of pilgrimage.

In the days that lead up to December 12, caravans of worshipers will be making their way into Mexico City for the Día de Guadalupe mass. Those in their own cars will often decorate them with a giant cross, flashing lights, large speakers blasting music and colorful balloons, as they make the journey.

For those who want to experience Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe in Mexico, but don’t want to brave the large crowd in Mexico City, you’ll easily find smaller-scale masses and celebrations in Catholic churches throughout the country.

Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe Tours

The church itself is a work of art, which any architecture lover will appreciate on any day of the year. The most recent building on the church was built by famed Mexican architect, Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, who also built the National Anthropology Museum.

To see the beautiful Basílica de Guadalupe in Mexico City, it’s easiest to join a group tour. Many tours combine a visit to the Guadalupe Church with the nearby Teotihuacan Ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with ancient prehispanic pyramids — and a Mexico City must see for most visitors.

Mexican Traditions & Mexico Holidays

Dia de los Reyes Magos: January 6

Día de Reyes, also known as Día de los Reyes Magos, Día de los Santos Reyes, or even Epifanía (Epiphany), is celebrated on January 6. Regardless of what you call it, this important Catholic holiday commemorates the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem to worship the Baby Jesus.

They brought with them gifts for the baby, and nowadays many Mexican children will not get their presents until the same day Jesus did. That’s right, one of the main 3 Kings Day traditions in Mexico is that kids actually open their gifts on this day — not Christmas!

Rosca de Reyes Cake

Besides the presents, one of the main traditions on Dia de los Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day) is eating a rosca de reyes. This is a ring-shaped sweet bread that’s somewhat similar to an Italian Panettone cake.

Inside each ring, there are a few small, plastic figurines in the shape of a child — called a muñequo (little doll). If your slice of rosca has one of the doll figures, you’ll have to buy everyone present at the gathering tamales on the next holiday — which is Día de la Candelaria on February 2.

In the weeks leading up to the holiday, supermarkets and bakeries will start selling rosca de reyes. Many say the best roscas come from a local panaderia (bakery), and not the grocery store. To experience one of the best Mexican holiday food traditions the right way, always “shop local” for your rosca!

rosca de reyes bread cake | Mexican Traditions and Festive Mexico Holidays
If you find the muñequo, you’ll have to buy the tamales for the next holiday gathering, which is Día de la Candelaria on Feb. 2.
Mexican Traditions and customs

Dia de la Revolucion: November 20

Día de la Revolución Mexicana (Mexican Revolution Day) celebrates the day Francisco I. Madero started the movement to end the 35-year, dictator-like reign of Porfirio Diaz.

What started as a movement to oust an autocratic leader, turned into a civil war, and became one of Mexico’s most important historical events. To celebrate, you’ll see patriotic parades all over the country, which will include students, teachers, athletes, and the Mexican military. 

Dia de Santa Cecilia‍: November 22

As music is a huge part of Mexico culture, the Feast Day or Celebration of Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians, is a fun day in the country. Throughout the day in much of Mexico, you may see public mariachi performances in the streets or in restaurants. 

In Apaseo el Grande, a municipality in Guanajuato state near San Miguel de Allende, Saint Cecilia’s Day is an official holiday. Here, they have special masses, concerts and organized dances — in a celebration that often lasts up to four days.

In Mexico City, mariachi musicians gather in the Plaza Garibaldi in Downtown to sing traditional mañanitas (songs) for Saint Cecelia. While this plaza is the best place to see mariachis in Mexico City all year long, the celebration is only that much more amplified on November 22.

Mariachi band playing music | Mexican Traditions and Festive Mexico Holidays
Mexican Traditions & Mexico Holidays

Dia de la Madre: May 10

Mexican culture is very family-oriented — and many go all out to honor their mama! If you find yourself in Mexico during Mother’s Day, you may be awoken to hear mariachi bands serenading some mothers beginning at midnight. During the day, it’s common to take mom out for lunch.

Dia del Padre: June 20

Father’s Day in Mexico is pretty much identical to the holiday in the United States. Many will buy dad a gift, or take him to lunch, or plan a big family dinner. 

Dia del Niño: April 30

Día del Niño (Children’s Day) is similar to Mother’s and Father’s Day, but as a way to celebrate Mexican children. On this holiday, many kids will get a gift, a few toys, or even just a special treat like a cake or an ice cream.

Children’s Day, one of the most widespread Hispanic culture traditions, is celebrated throughout many Latin American countries, though on different days. For example, Argentina celebrates Children’s Day on August 15, and Ecuador celebrates it on June 1.

a woman wearing all white with two young boys walking in san miguel de allende, mexico | Mexican Traditions and Festive Mexico Holidays
Mexican Family Traditions: Children, community and family are a big part of everyday lifeespecially during the holidays.
Mexican Traditions & Festivals

Guelaguetza Festival: July

La Guelaguetza (pronounced geh-la-gets-uh) is a grand annual celebration in Oaxaca City, the capital of Oaxaca state. It is also known as Los Lunes del Cerro (Mondays on the Hill), because it takes place on the two Mondays that follow July 16, at Cerro del Fortín State Park.

💃 Guelaguetza Travel Tip: Oaxaca City is a smaller town, and this is a big festival. For those who want to go, book your Oaxaca City accommodation at least 3-6 months in advance.

Oaxaca state is known as one of the cultural epicenters of Mexico, with a large indigenous population and a deep connection to their traditions. Besides the Guelaguetza, Oaxaca City is also home to the largest Day of the Dead Mexico festival.

There are eight separate regions of Oaxaca, and they all come together to showcase their elaborate dances during the Guelaguetza — which attendees are invited to join. The festival also highlights each region’s music, textiles, foods, arts and crafts, and more.

La Guelaguetza is one of the biggest Mexican cultural events, and the largest folkloric festival on the Americas Continent.
Mexican Traditions & Festivals

Festival Internacional Cervantino: October

The Cervantino Festival is a performing and visual arts festival that takes place in Guanajuato City during the first three weeks in October. Immediately following, there’s a lively celebration of Day of the Dead in Guanajuato.

Guanajuato City has a lot of universities and art colleges, and is known for having a youthful vibe. It is a haven for creative types and artists — and even famed Mexican painter, Diego Rivera (AKA Frida’s husband), lived there.

The Cervantino began as a small festival with local students and artists performing short plays by Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes, though has become the largest Latin American arts festival. It is named in honor of Cervantes, and draws attendees from all over the world.

brightly colored home and buildings in the colorful colonial town of Guanajuato City, Guanajuato, Mexico, located in central Mexico, and a safe place for female solo Mexico travel
Cervantino Travel Tip: Guanajuato City is a smaller town, and this is a big festival. For those who want to go, book your Guanajuato City accommodation at least 3-6 months in advance.
Mexican Traditions & Festivals

Papantla Flyers

In 2009, the Voladores de Papantla (Flyers of Papantla) ritual was designated a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as a unique display of ancient Mexican culture traditions. This ceremony comes from the state of Veracruz, located in southeastern Mexico.

Their Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers) is done in tribute to the sun and the four elements. The ceremony, not considered among the Mexican rituals for the faint of heart, requires five “flyers” who must climb to the top of a 100-foot-tall (32m) pole.

One man, called the caporal, will remain on top to play songs on his flute and drum. The other four men hang upside down from ropes, spinning (or “flying”) around the pole for about 10 minutes on their journey back to the ground. 

Visitors to the Yucatan Peninsula in southeastern Mexico can see the Voladores de Papantla at various spots in Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Cancun.

Voladores de Papantla flyers performing a ritual where they hang from a pole upside down | Mexican Traditions and Festive Mexico Holidays
The Voladores de Papantla “flying” back to Earth in their ancient ritual.
Mexican Traditions & Festivals

Dance of the Parachicos: January 15-23

Each year, from January 15-23, many head to the southern Mexico city of Chiapa de Corzo to see the Danza de los Parachicos (Dance of the Parachicos). This colorful, indigenous dance has been declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2010.

During the festival, dancers don traditional wooden masks and embroidered shawls with colored ribbons, as they play chinchines (tin rattles/maracas), during their dances.

It is part of the large Fiesta Grande de Enero (Great January Feast), from January 4-23. This celebration of music, gastronomy, dance, and religious ceremony is held in honor of the town’s patron saints, Saint Sebastian, Saint Anthony Abbot and Black Christ of Esquipulas.

Chiapa de Corzo is a pueblo magico in Chiapas state. This “magic towns” is located near one of the most beautiful natural wonders in Mexico, Sumidero Canyon, and also San Cristobal de las Casas, another one of the 135 (or so) pueblos mágicos in Mexico.

Mexican Traditions

Mexican Piñatas

Having a piñata is one of the most prevalent Mexican birthday traditions! Seemingly an innocuous party favor, the Mexican piñata holds deep religious symbolism — though so few are aware.

The piñata’s bright colors symbolize temptation, and the stick to hit it with represents the will to overcome sin. The blindfold person symbolizes faith, and once the most “faithful” person cracks open the piñata, they get all the goodies inside as a reward for overcoming sin and evil.

These colorful paper structures are common at many Mexican parties, especially ones for children. They are usually in the shape of a star or animal, and sometimes, a cartoon character. Inside, they are filled with candy, small trinkets, and sometimes money.

Mexican Traditions

Quinceañera Parties

While in the U.S., teenage girls may have a Sweet 16 party — in Mexico and much of Latin America, they have Quinceañeras (pronounced kin-say-en-yare-uh). This translates to 15 Years Party, and like a Sweet 16 party or Bat Mitzvah, is a celebration of the transition to womanhood.

Though Sweet 16 parties are becoming a thing of the past, the Quinceañera is still an important Mexican party and rite of passage for girls. It is not uncommon for families to go all out with these parties, spending tens of thousands of dollars and inviting hundreds of guests.

Mariachi Music

Mariachi music is probably the best-known and most important form of music in Mexico. It comes from the state of Jalisco (home to Puerto Vallarta and Tequila) in Central Mexico, though you can hear mariachi throughout the country. 

💍 Mexican Wedding Traditions: Many Mexican weddings have a mariachi band to accompany the newly-married couple on La Callejoneada (the Wedding Parade). This immediately follows the ceremony, as everyone makes their way to the reception.

Mariachi groups use several specialized instruments, including the guitarrón, vihuela mexicana, harp, guitar, violin, trumpet — and of course, the singer’s voice. The band performs wearing their elaborate and iconic charro costume. Once reserved only for men, modern day mariachi bands now include women.

Mariachi in Mexico City

Mexico City’s Plaza Garibaldi is one of the most fun places for mariachi, as bands gather in Garibaldi Square to “battle” each other day and night with their musical abilities. You can also hire mariachi bands in Xochimilco, famous for its colorful gondola boats, called trajineras.

Mexican Traditions

Mexican’s Love Nicknames

Throughout the country, people often give each other nicknames, a playful and endearing part of the culture and customs in Mexico. For many, the nicknames stick forever, and end up becoming the person’s new name that even their own parents adopt it.

Some common nicknames include chaparrito, meaning shorty, or mi cielo, meaning my sky. Those with curly hair will often be called chino or china, meaning curls, and men who have lost their hair will often be called pelon, or baldy.

Mexican Alebrijes

Alebrijes (pronounced al-lay-bree-hays) are iconic and colorful Mexican folk art creations, made from paper maché or carved from wood. On first glance, they look like animal figures — but when you look closer, you’ll see each one combines a few animals into one figure.

First made by artist Pedro Linares in the town of San Martín Tilcajete, Oaxaca, Mexico, many head to this pueblo (small town) to buy their own unique alebrije figure. As these are handmade, no two alebrijes are alike.

According to an account by the original artist himself, Pedro Linares fell ill with a high fever and had vivid “fever dreams” that eventually inspired the alebrijes’ creation. He said they served as a sort of spirit guide during his illness, to get him through that tough time.

Now one of the most beloved Mexican folk art styles, alebrijes are seen outside of his small town in Oaxaca. You can buy them everywhere from local arts markets to airport gift shops. If you’ve seen the movie Coco, there’s two alebrijes in it, Pepita and Dante.

alebrije colorful mexican folk art wood carving of a wood creature | Mexican Traditions and Festive Mexico Holidays
This elaborate alebrije is a horse, mixed with an alligator, mixed with a dragon!
Mexican Traditions

Mexican Food Traditions

Mexico is a country that loves their food and traditional Mexican drinks! It is a huge part of the culture and national identity — so much that in 2010, UNESCO declared traditional Mexican food an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind.” — meaning Mexican food is a cultural treasure worth preserving.

A typical Mexican breakfast includes coffee, juice, pan dulce (sweet bread/pastry) and a plate of fruit. Antojitos (pronounced an-toe-he-toes, and meaning “snacks”), like tacos, elote and tamales, are eaten at any time throughout, often bought from street food vendors.

Lunch, or comida, usually happens between 1-3pm, and is typically the largest meal of the day. Traditionally, lunchtime was followed by a siesta, though this isn’t common anymore since so many work in offices that don’t allow it.

The typical Mexican dinner, or cena, is eaten much later in Mexico than in the U.S., often around 9pm. In fact, most visitors to Mexico experience culture shock when they find themselves the only diners in restaurants from about 5pm-7:30pm during the normal U.S. dinner hour.

man carving meat off a spit to make tacos al pastor in mexico city | Mexican Traditions and Festive Mexico Holidays

RELATED ARTICLE 🌮 50 Best Tacos in Mexico City

Mexican Traditions

Mexican Siesta

Siestas are one definitely one of the Top 10 Mexican traditions — and one most Americans wish they could practice more! A siesta (pronounced see-yes-tah) is essentially a short nap taken early in the afternoon, following a large lunch.

Sadly, it’s one of the Mexican customs and traditions that dies out more and more each year. As much of the country has made the shift to the 9-5 lifestyle, siestas are much less common than they once were.

Mexican Hat Dance

Mexico’s national dance is the Jarabe Tapatio, or Mexican Hat Dance. It began as a courtship dance back in the 18th Century in Guadalajara, but is now performed as a display of national pride at various events celebrating Mexican culture and traditions.

Guadalajara is the capital of Jalisco state, which brought us mariachi, so this music is played during the dance. Jarabe Tapatio male dancers wear a traditional charro suit, while the women don long, flowing skirts or dresses, which move freely when they dance. 

Final Thoughts: Mexican Traditions, Mexico Holidays & Festivals

If you were wondering, What are some Mexican traditions? — You now know there are so many cool customs and traditions in Mexico! I have lived in the country since 2018, and still find new ways to fall in love with the rich history and unique Mexican traditions that make this country so special. 

As far as Mexican holidays, this list barely scratched the surface. At least once or twice a month, I’ll hear fireworks going off for one holiday or another — as fireworks are one of the most common Mexican holiday traditions used on all holidays. If there’s one thing to say about Mexico: It’s a very festive country!

🥳 Mexico Holiday Fun Fact: About 6,000 people google “Is today a holiday in Mexico?” each month — as there’s often fireworks going off and many don’t know why!

Which of these Mexico Customs and Traditions was most interesting?

I’d love to hear from you! Let me know which of these Mexico holidays and festivals you can’t wait to attend, or what was the most fascinating of these Mexican traditions for you.

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  1. Linda Jane says:

    I’d love to see a Mexican Dia de los meurtos, The celebrations look so colourful & the Mexican Hat Dance looks like a lot of fun too! My music students actually play a short version of this! Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. This is so interesting, I love learning about different holidays! I’d love to attend carnival at Veracruz. It would be nice to burn up all the bad moods!

  3. One of my absolute favorite things about Mexico is the culture and holiday celebrations! I would love to experience Carnival in Mexico – such a lively and happy event!

  4. Wow that’s really interesting ..I so want to visit Mexico 😍

  5. So many unique holidays and festivals in Mexico. I would love to visit on the Day of the Dead.

  6. Vanessa Shields says:

    So many wonderful holidays and celebrations! It’s been on my bucket list to attend day of the dead in Oaxaca City so I’m hoping in the next year or two I get to go! That’s funny that there never was a celebration in Mexico City until the James Bond movie (loved it!). It’s interesting that Cinco de Mayo is so big here in the US and not in Mexico. I actually thought it was for their independence so im glad I learned something new!

  7. It was a fun read! As a Spaniard, I was very intrigued to see how the same holidays are celebrated on the other side of the Atlantic, especially Semana Santa and Christmas.

  8. This is such a fascinating article. I never realized they celebrated so many holidays. We’ve been there for Día de Los Muertos and it is fabulous. Will have to check out these others!

  9. What an interesting and thorough article, thanks for all of the details and videos! I have long wanted to go to Mexico for Dia de Muertos, it is such a beautiful way to celebrate and honor the lives of those we have lost. This article added a lot of other events to add to my list.

  10. simplyjolayne says:

    What an amazing post for clarification. I did not know about many of these celebrations and you certainly helped to teach me about the Day of the Dead.